Living alone increases risk of depression, says recent study

Living alone increases risk of depression, says recent study

Living alone increases risk of depression, says recent study

Living alone has been associated with a higher risk of depressive symptoms among older people, according to a recent report titled: “Living alone and the risk of depressive symptoms: a cross-sectional and cohort analysis based on the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study.”

According to the report findings, living alone poses a heightened risk of depressive symptoms in the older Chinese population, a risk that is significantly influenced by the receipt of financial support.

The report suggests that living alone can serve as an effective and straightforward predictor for the early identification of high-risk populations for depression among older people.

The report characterises living alone as a unique residential style resulting from being unmarried, widowed, or other reasons, potentially elevating the risks of social isolation, loneliness, and malnutrition, particularly among the elderly.

In a recent meta-analysis incorporating six cohort studies and one case-control study, individuals living alone faced a 1.42 times higher risk of depressive symptoms compared to those with alternative living arrangements.

While prior research suggested that specific risk factors, including sex, socioeconomic status, social support, and urban/rural living, might modify the effect of living alone on depressive symptoms, the results have been contentious. The current study mainly aimed to investigate the longitudinal association between living alone and depressive symptoms in the general population 60 years and older.

Notably, the study delves into the influence of family and governmental support separately. Surprisingly, financial support from families emerges as a crucial factor, exhibiting a more pronounced impact on the association between living alone and depressive symptoms, particularly among the elderly.

Drawing parallels, a cohort study from Japan reinforces these findings, indicating that living alone not only affects depressive symptoms but also impacts participants’ overall sense of well-being.

The study from Japan also suggests that the risk of depressive symptoms is lower among urban areas, aligning with the current study’s observations to some extent.

The report proposes a promising insight – financial support may play a pivotal role in mitigating the adverse effects of living alone on depressive symptoms. This aligns with the stress theory, hypothesising that personal resources can buffer the impact of stress on depression.

Furthermore, the study concludes that family financial support may exert a more substantial influence in minimising the risk of depressive symptoms stemming from living alone, compared to government support, particularly among the elderly.

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